(Corrects to indicate Perry's armband reads "Persist" not
By Alexandria Sage
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 12 A giant video projection
of the U.S. Constitution loomed over the stage at this year's
Grammys, making the music industry's top awards show one of the
most overtly political yet.
The document that defines America and famously begins with
"We the People" provoked a standing ovation from the audience at
the culmination of a performance by pop singer Katy Perry, who
wore a "Persist" armband and sang her newly released song,
"Chained to the Rhythm."
With a refrain of "We think we're free," the song's lyrics
talk about being lulled into a "comfortable bubble." Performing
on a set with a picture-perfect white picket fence, Perry was
joined by Skip Marley, grandson of Jamaican reggae legend Bob
Marley, whose songs often protested against oppression and
The aftermath of November's bitterly fought U.S.
presidential election has produced a succession of political
comments by artists at awards shows, most notably actress Meryl
Streep's speech attacking U.S. President Donald Trump during the
Golden Globes Awards in January.
That spree continued on Sunday, as various artists brought
up the divisive political atmosphere and the need to speak out.
"At this particular time in history, our voices are needed
more than ever," said Jennifer Lopez at the show's start.
In a more comic vein, Grammys host James Corden launched the
show with a rap: "Live it all up because this is the best, and
with President Trump we don't know what comes next."
Hip-hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest performed a
politically charged medley with nominee Anderson Paak, calling
out to "Agent Orange," a nickname for Trump. At the end of the
song, women wearing headscarves joined the performers onstage
accompanied by cries of "Resist!"
Ahead of the main awards show, Chance the Rapper won a
Grammy for best rap performance, wearing a black hoodie with
"Obama" on the back and "thank you" on the front.
But the commentary was not all anti-Trump. In a bold
statement that instantly made headlines, singer Joy Villa on the
red carpet revealed a gown with "Make America Great Again" - the
election slogan of Trump - stitched down the front.
The president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, called
on Trump to renew the government's commitment to the arts,
saying Americans are "constantly reminded about the things that
divide us," citing race, religion, sexual orientation and
politics. "But what we need so desperately are more reminders of
all that binds us together."
(Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Additional reporting by Piya
Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bill Rigby)